Spotlight On: Jim & Tonic

Spotlight On: Jim & Tonic

From humble beginnings, Jim & Tonic has grown into a multi-venue network of gin bars, an online shop, a sustainable distillery, and a flagship location in East London complete with a bar, rooftop terrace, restaurant and space for a diverse selection of events throughout the year.

With more exciting developments on the horizon, including outdoor 'Summer of Sport' screenings for the upcoming Euros and Olympics, we spoke with Sam Watson, Commercial Manager at Jim & Tonic, about the growth of the business and the role that events have played in their success.

The last few years have brought a lot of expansion for Jim & Tonic. What's been the story so far?

The whole business started with our founder Jim. He loved a gin and tonic, and he saw the emerging trend of gin becoming more popular in the UK.

Initially, it started as a trailer bar and Jim was going up and down the country selling G&Ts at events. Then, the first venues were opened in London at the Mercato venues in Mayfair and Elephant & Castle, which we still work with now.

After that, it evolved from the bars and we started distilling our own products, eventually ending up with what we're now calling Jim & Tonic East. That's comprised of The Print House with the distillery, the bar and restaurant, and also The Rum House which is now open with the rooftop.

It’s evolved from a mobile bar in a trailer to a distillery, venue and events business.

Photo: Jim & Tonic

What role have events played in the growth of the business?

Events have always been a big part of the company, and still have a huge role in what we do. The trailer that Jim started with is still part of the business, and we've got another 10-plus vehicles which we take out to events all across the UK.

We’re just coming into our main event season, and with a whole host of events going on over the summer, we can often be at two or three different events in a weekend.

This year, for example, we're doing the Great North Run, Great Birmingham Run, and London Pride; we work with Trent Bridge Cricket Ground in Nottingham. There’s a lot to that side of the business.

It's one of the three fundamental parts of the business: the distillery, the events, and the venues. All are equally important for our longevity.

Tell us a bit about the venues that make up Jim & Tonic.

Jim & Tonic East is a growing part of the business. The Print House was the first part; that's sort of the flagship where the distillery is housed. We've got the bar and restaurant in there. We've just got a new chef in and that's going really well with the food side of things.

The Rum House opened last year and it’s still evolving. The rooftop is a new addition to that which we're hoping to have open regularly throughout the week.

That venue hosts The Rumhouse Sessions that we ticket through FIXR, and we've got our regular comedy night Jim & Jokes as well, in addition to corporate hire, weddings, and that kind of thing.

Photo: Jim & Tonic

Were the events you host at your venues a conscious decision to diversify beyond being ‘just’ a drinks company?

100%. We're going through a bit of a rebrand at the moment, moving to a new bottle, and a bigger feature of the design will be the ampersand from Jim & Tonic.

That’s about being "Jim &..." whatever else it could be, because we do so much. It’s not just about gin or spirits, it’s a whole host of things that make up the bigger picture.

Obviously we’ve already got Jim & Jokes, but we also work with so many people and it’s always been such a collaborative business - whether that’s out at events or in our venues. It’s all part of a conscious effort to diversify.

How have you found that expansion with the challenges facing the events and hospitality industries?

The feedback from customers in terms of the venue has been really good, but we’ve definitely still got room to grow and we’re always looking for ways to get more people through the door.

We’re less than a five-minute walk from the new ABBA Voyage venue, so on those days The Print House is usually pretty fully booked before and after the show. But we really want to build connections with the local area as well; Sugarhouse Island residents, sports clubs etc. That's a big thing for us: growing loyal customers who’ll return regularly.

One of the things we think will help make those connections is doing events that are interesting and engaging; like comedy, quiz nights or live music. That's why we want to do more of the events that we manage through FIXR, to give people that extra reason to come out and pay us a visit.

Photo: Jim & Tonic

How has your experience been using the FIXR platform?

It’s all been very clear and straightforward when it comes to setting up events; duplicating existing ones for recurring, for example.

We want to do more of those regular events, growing the sizes as we go. Part of that will be the 'Summer of Sport’ that we’re doing for the Euros, Wimbledon and the Olympics.

We’ve got a big outdoor screen at the venue, and we’re ticketing some of those bigger events like the England matches, the semi-finals, and the final. That will help us over the summer when it comes to people booking in advance; tickets, tables and drinks packages. We’re excited about the potential for those big events.

Being able to list those tickets and get an idea of interest for that type of event across the summer is great. I really like the dashboard and the reporting we’re able to see on there; things like ticket sale trends, returning customers and demographics.

Head here to see upcoming events at Jim & Tonic

If you're interested in learning more about how FIXR can help your events business grow, don't hesitate to get in touch.